Top 6 Best Practices to Improve Sales Process

| By: Steve Farnan

I’ve seen the eye rolls and heard the not-so-concealed sighs.

Just try mentioning the words ‘implement’ and ‘process’ within the same breath at any sales team meeting and you’re bound to get the reaction. (Not that I wasn’t guilty myself a time or two.)

But after decades of sales team leadership, I can tell you that process does not deserve its bad rap as mundane. Process is a vital component of any successful, competitive business. It drives profitability because weaknesses and duplications can be easily spotted and replaced with improvements.

The structure provided by process, while seeming rigid, actually allows agility because time and energy is directed toward creativity rather than recreating the wheel. And the comforting consistency of process leads to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.

In sales, you can have the best reps and incentive plans, but without processes in place, they may just be spinning wheels. Let me share a few points I know to be valuable in creating a guided process to selling:

1. Work Around the Prospect’s Process

Identify how customers typically buy from you. Odds are, they approach a managed services deal much differently than a one-time installation. Every solution has a unique buying cycle, and so should your sales activities. Analyze and adjust your mix sales activities (discovery calls, on-site meetings, demonstrations, quotes, follow up, and closing) to be in step with your client’s actual buying process.

2. Collaboration is Key

I can’t say it enough. Be sure to include your sales team’s input when creating process.

Collaboration earns buy-in and the trial-and-error journey of any new process will be a lot less bumpy when everyone is traveling together toward a commonly desired destination.

3. Automate Whenever Possible

Not only does automation eliminate guesswork, lighten loads, and eliminate human errors, but it helps you stay on top of what could otherwise be missed opportunities.

If you’re still using spreadsheets and emails and you feel like you’re micromanaging your team, it’s time to implement a business management platform or CRM tool.

4. Define Standards

Standardization takes the guesswork out of your sales process—and makes training much easier, so scaling your business becomes a cinch. It provides a predictable flow and measurement for all activities. The resulting smooth operation benefits, both your sales team and customers, by removing the opportunity for knee-jerk reactions.

5. Visibility Leads to Success

If you don’t have a handle on the status of your sales, you can’t effectively manage goals—and no one likes a micromanager. Real-time visibility to pipeline and team performance frees you from constantly having asking your team for updates.

It’s not realistic to think a sales team individual will step forward to announce they’re performing poorly, whether by their own fault or outside circumstances. Automated tools provide documentation that allow you to proactively view and manage every step of sales, letting you change course before it’s too late.

6. Create Accountability

To be successful, sales team members and managers have to stay on top of where every deal stands. It’s well worth the investment of a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that notes every activity as it’s performed, making accountability an automated breeze.

Regardless of company size, every sales team will be bettered by process. True, there needs to be a careful balance. Not enough process, and you can be easily thrown off track, while too much may threaten to tie you down to the tracks. But when carefully defined, developed, and automated (if possible), the importance of process can fuel your sales success.